ARTICLE: A Last Helping of Snake Oil - Modern Hi-Fi and the Impact of Accessories

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Phil Hinton, Jan 16, 2019.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. dsb

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      There’s always plenty of folk out there daft enough to buy this stuff and with enough money too. So daft that you wonder how they got the money. Even now you still get people who will claim one hdmi cable will give them a better picture and sound quality on their tv even when you try to explain to them how hdmi works. I’ve given up trying to educate them
       
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    3. Pulsar

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      Interesting article @Ed Selley - thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I've been (somewhat oddly?) excited to read the article since it was mentioned on the podcast at least a month ago.
       
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    4. Pecker

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      A great read ED, many thanks.

      I think most of us agree that some ideas we've seen with hi-fi have been worthwhile, whilst others have been snake oil.

      I think the movement from 'traditional' sources (CD) and network-stored media has blown away a few of the more esoteric ideas. Perhaps, in doing so for one link in the chain, it'll open the gates to doing so for the rest.
       
    5. Educated Guess

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      " the idea of using a higher quality cable to attach a printer in the pursuit of higher performance is entirely absurd."

      This sums up the article for me in one sentence (one I will unashamedly recite in future conversations). This old argument is slowly dissolving along with the cables as we move into a new wireless era.
       
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    6. Killbill118

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      Just wait until you start seeing cones that’s you can place on top of your wireless equipment. Point them towards your other equipment to “channel” the signal and get extra karma points !
       
    7. mushii

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      That and some Wi-fi wave guides (passive miniature TV aerials) tuned to specific frequencies, dotted around the house to guide wireless digital audio signals and remove digital harmonics from the signal path. I am truly surprised though that we haven’t yet seen digital speaker cable. I thought that would have been a no brainier for the Snake Oiler’s.
       
    8. chaz

      chaz
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      Paul Messenger was one of those guys who said putting sticky tape on your turntable improved the sound plus like putting a a house brick on top of a Cd Player also made it sound better along in turning the speakers back to front plus many more other daft ideas.I think he wrote for Hi Fi News or Hi Fi World. My wife new him though her ex husband who designed hi fi and wrote for the magazines back in the 80s 90s she told me Paul Messenger had these and many other silly ideas at the time. Wonder if he is still alive?
       
      Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
    9. dannnielll

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      Lovely article Ed, nicely constructed, gentle yet pointed. .. nice one!
       
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    10. dannnielll

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      .. oh dear, yesterday I put my speakers upside down,with the tweeters lower, because the shelf is above ear level, am I sucumbing
       
    11. Ste7en

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      "the idea of using a higher quality cable to attach a printer in the pursuit of higher performance is entirely absurd."

      Probably why nobody even thinks this.

      You can't compare listening to music with printing a Word document, but I understand the sentiment... to a degree.
       
    12. MarcoDB

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      Clicked article hoping to see some more photos of outlandish hifi tweaks. Was not disappointed.
       
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    13. Abacus

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      The reason all these items exist in the digital age is because we have 2 camps, 1 that says things can’t make a difference and 1 camp that says everything makes a difference, (Black & White) whereas in reality it is a combination of the 2, Humans are not robots and (As Spock would say) they are not logical, as their perception of the world changes with the time of day, their mental wellbeing, (Have they had a good day at work or not) how do they feel, is the room warm or cold etc. and while all these effects can be measured, they cannot be interpreted buy a machine unless everything about the person has been input into the system as everybody perceives them different.

      There are 2 types of users in our little world, (Which really is miniscule compared to the rest of the world) those that listen to the music/Film and those that listen to the system, with those that listen to the music/film only changing things when new technology (Formats etc.) come along, (These users have taken the time to listen to various combinations of equipment to find which best suits them, (They use the black & white camps purely to narrow things down) and those that are constantly swapping to try and achieve the Holy Grail, (Which doesn’t exist) and completely miss what out hobby is all about. (Musical/film pleasure)

      Take with a pinch of salt both black & white camps when purchasing equipment and just get something that suits you, if you don’t, you will be constantly swapping and changing, as well as feeling disgruntled because someone doesn’t agree with your point of view.

      Bill
       
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    14. Soundizer

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    15. JH4

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      On a similar note: I was in Dubai once where a man was praying on his mat in a hotel lobby. A large gentleman in a long gown came up to him and tapped him in the shoulder. The man got up and moved his mat round slightly, then sat down again to pray. It was obviously not pointing to Mecca. I laughed like a drain.. ( I always point my phono cartridge to North, btw, to align it with the Earth's magnetic field ! )
       
    16. steve sph

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      Well constructed and thoughtful polemic - we've all heard the 'old wives' tales' about using speaker cable so thick you could anchor an aircraft carrier with it, covering your living room in egg boxes to simulate an anechoic chamber and, (though we're all loathe to admit it), we've all fallen for clever marketing and the triumph of style over substance over the years.
      And I've seen arguments reach the level of death threats over the perfect subwoofer setting.
      Once bluetooth speakers are good enough to negate the need for cables and everything can be connected wirelessly all you'll need is a mains socket and Bob will be your fraternal relative.
      Then you'll hear cable manufacturers crying a river even deeper and wider than when the Scart lead became obsolete.
      It's just the inexorable cyclical nature of technological advance.
      *although I'll still keep a bag of useless leads in the shed just in case...*
       
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    17. Clem_Dye

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      In the days of analogue audio, choice of what interconnects and speaker cables to use did make a difference, to varying degrees. In many cases the effects were subtle, but were there nevertheless. Decent speaker stands do, I believe, still make a difference, and, in the land of all things digital, I think that it just comes down to selecting good quality, decently-shielded cables, and these don’t have to cost the earth. It’s possible to get away with cheapie HDMI cables for a pound or so, but I spend a little more to get consistency of product, and for me, for the most part, Amazon Basics hit the spot. I do use shielded mains cables, make sure that cable runs don’t interfere (mains next to signal, etc.), but that’s about it. It still surprises me that Curry’s are still trying to flog overly expensive HDMI cables to punters, but they’re preying on the ignorance (using the word carefully here) of customers in order to rip them off. To my mind, some things still matter in the digital age, but nowhere near as much as they did back in the days of analogue ...


      Clem
       
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    18. mushii

      mushii
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      i wonder how may hifi purists have detailed audio-grams, undertaken annually, so that they can compensate their hi-fi set-up for specif frequency degeneration in both their middle and inner ear, which happens over time, in all of us? I know I have 15% hearing loss in my left ear between 2000 - 5000 Hz due to a severe middle / inner ear infection in my late 20s.
      I would posit that hearing degeneration has a marked and more pronounced effect on the perceived sound of a hifi, than adding 2 grands worth of speaker cable. Maybe its time for graphic equalisers to make a come-back ?
       
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    19. Derek S-H

      Derek S-H
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      Thanks for the hilarious accompanying pictures, really cheered me up on a gloomy January day!:)
       
    20. supermariojj

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      I 've seen hi fi get dafter over the years, just recently on the naim forum someone was trying out fuses in their mains plugs costing over £100 saying it was a big improvement. Others saying fuses sounded better in one direction than another saying fuses were directional. There was a hi fi magazine reviewer who claimed that his felt mat on his LP12 turntable sounded better one way than the other. It was better when people changed a piece of equipment to make their hi fi sound better instead of this nonsense IMHO. Each to their own i suppose.
       
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    21. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      Whatever comes out the big ole box of string first. In use at the moment are cables from QED, Chord Company, Tchernov and IsoTek.
       
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    22. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      It pains me to say this but... I've experienced this on the LP12. The two sides of the matt are different though and as noted in the piece, turntables are a minefield of input variables which is where a lot of this industry stems from.
       
    23. larkone

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      As we move more and more to wireless methods of connection then the accessory business will no doubt invent cans of audiophile air to improve wireless transmission fidelity - never underestimate their ability to invent then un-necessary based on FUD and dubious physics
       
    24. supermariojj

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      I have this turntable Ed and a linn/naim 6 pack isobarik active system, I tried it and my hi fi dealer couldn't hear it. But if you could then that's good for you.
       
    25. db2332

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      Think the staff in Currys are trained up in this thinking as the very expensive HDMIs (£80.00) they flog to their unwary customers are so much better than one for a tenner or cheaper from Amazon.
       
    26. Ste7en

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      I'm assuming you use no form of Re-EQ :)
       
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    27. sergiup

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      Uh-oh... *Ed clicks "post" and walks away*

      [​IMG]
       
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    28. tiberian9

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      Obviously the cable companies will move into flogging us oxygen free air to flood our listening rooms with.
       
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    29. Eddy555

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      What I'd like to see is some actual engineering analysis of the effects of cables. Especially speaker cables. That would convince me rather more that there was any difference in any of the cables on offer. I understand there is a limit of the size of the cable, i.e. you don't want to use a cable that's definitely undersized for the distance and load, but what happens to the audio signal after you 've reached a certain point? Do different cable construction alter the sound in any way that's measurable? etc.
      Has anyone carried out this kind of analysis of cables?
      Is there a method of calibrating audio (I'm thinking of music rather than DIRAC style home cinema calibration) as we would have with video, where there's a reference to work with?
       
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    30. mushii

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      ..and therein lies the rub. What is it we are trying to achieve? What the studio engineer heard when he mixed the track on a pair of very neutral sounding monitors? What the musician heard in his earpiece / monitors when he played the piece? What the vinyl / CD mastering engineer heard when he produced the studio master? What the pressing engineer heard when he was QA'ing the pressings?

      Nobody, as far as I know has actually defined what the 'end sound' is supposed to be replicating ?
       
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